Dick Van Dyke found great success both on radio and Broadway before becoming one of the stars of the CBS television sitcom The Dick Van Dyke Show from 1961 to 1966. Additionally, his movie career saw him appear in Bye Bye Birdie, Mary Poppins, and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang among many others.
Dick Van Dyke’s Biography
Dick Van Dyke is a five-time Emmy and Tony award-winning American actor, comedian, writer, singer-dancer-producer known for his roles in musical films like Bye Bye Birdie, Mary Poppins, and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang as well as in television shows like the Dick Van Dyke Show (1961-66) and Diagnosis: Murder (1993-2001).
Van Dyke was born in West Plains, Missouri to Hazel Victoria (nee McCord; 1896-1992) and salesman Loren Wayne “Cookie” Van Dyke (1898-1976). He began his acting career on radio and Broadway before appearing on various game shows for television. His big break came when he landed the role of Rob Petrie on the CBS sitcom The Dick Van Dyke Show between 1961 and 1966 – earning three Emmy awards along the way!
After The Dick Van Dyke Show had ended, Van Dyke continued acting and voice-acting roles, such as Disney movies such as Mary Poppins 1964 and 1968’s Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Additionally, he featured himself on many television series such as The New Dick Van Dyke Show and The Mary Tyler Moore Show in the 1970s.
Van Dyke struggled during the 1980s and ’90s with alcoholism and financial difficulties, often hospitalized for intestinal obstruction; following which, he experienced a serious fall that nearly rendered him paralyzed and required repeated visits to hospitals over subsequent years for complications related to the fall.
Van Dyke managed to remain active in entertainment despite his health challenges, appearing as a special guest on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno in 2007. Additionally, he hosted Family Feud in 2009 and 2010.
Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore appeared together again in 2003 for the TV special The Dick Van Dyke Show Revisited; later that same year he also appeared in Fitzwilly and an episode of Scrubs as a doctor.
Dick Van Dyke enjoyed an impressive seven-decade-long career spanning vaudeville, radio, television, film, Broadway, and recording studio work and earned great renown across each medium. Known for his charming smile and fearless physical comedy routines he was considered one of the greatest entertainers of his day.
Van Dyke gained global recognition through his role in Mary Poppins, which garnered him numerous musicals and movies throughout the 50s. Additionally, he appeared in a short-lived sitcom and a series of TV movies earning critical acclaim for his efforts.
He and Margie Willett had four children: sons Barry and Christian as well as daughters Stacy and Carrie Beth. Following his divorce, in the 1970s he remarried Michelle Triola; together they have six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
Van Dyke revolutionized sitcoms in the early 1960s by pioneering a three-camera setup and live audience interaction that would soon become the standard in television shows like Seinfeld and Family Ties. His instinctive physical comedy relied heavily on audience reactions for spontaneity unlike many of its rivals of that era.
Once The Dick Van Dyke Show had concluded in 1974, Van Dyke continued his appearances on television shows and movies. Most notably he appeared as D.A. Fletcher in Dick Tracy. Additionally, he became Dr. Mark Sloan in the Diagnosis: Murder series.
Bye, Bye Birdie brought him further recognition as an actor. Many consider him one of the great character actors ever in film history and Empire magazine named his attempt at a cockney accent the worst accent ever in film.
Van Dyke has been vocal about his struggle with alcoholism in the past and regularly attended recovery programs. Additionally, he became an advocate for mental illness. Additionally, he found great pleasure in music, recording a duet single with actress Jane Lynch for Christmas 2017. Additionally, Van Dyke owns an estate in Malibu, California as well as hosting part-time Halloween haunts there.
Dick Van Dyke’s Career
Dick Van Dyke had an extraordinary seven-decade-long career. Receiving multiple Emmy, Tony, and Grammy awards during this period, including The Family Classic Mary Poppins and Broadway’s Bye Bye Birdie on film; The Dick Van Dyke Show on television; Diagnosis Murder crime drama series as well as guest starring roles on Columbo, Carol Burnett Show as well as his popular sitcoms such as New Dick Van Dyke Show and comedy variety TV show Van Dyke and Company (which he co-starred).
Van Dyke began his entertainment career as a radio and TV personality, touring nightclubs with comedy pantomime acts before landing the role of Albert Peterson in Bye Bye Birdie (1960-61) for which he won a Tony Award. From 1961-66 he rose to prominence through his appearances as TV writer Rob Petrie on the CBS television sitcom The Dick Van Dyke Show as well as movie musicals Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and Mary Poppins.
After The Dick Van Dyke Show came to an end, Van Dyke continued appearing in various television programs and movies. He made regular appearances on the CBS sitcom The Columbo Show between 1974 and 1977; was the star of the short-lived sitcom The Van Dyke Show from 1980 to 1988 featuring son Barry Van Dyke; was featured on Diagnosis Murder from 1993 until 2001 as well as television movie series Murder 101 as well as feature film Night at the Museum.
Van Dyke made an impactful transition from comedy to drama in the 1990s with appearances on Jake and the Fatman and two TV movies based on Dr. Mark Sloan. These ultimately led to his role as Dr. Sloan on Diagnosis Murder for seven seasons between 1993 and 2001 starring alongside Barry (his real-life son) as Dr. Sloan; also appearing as D.A. Fletcher from The Simpsons cartoon series.
Dick Van Dyke’s Filmography
Dick Van Dyke has been captivating audiences ever since the 1950s with his signature brand of physical comedy on both film and TV screens, winning hearts (along with awards like five Emmys, a Grammy, and a Tony). Hailing from Missouri originally, Van Dyke spent several years honing his craft before landing an acclaimed role on CBS television series such as The Dick Van Dyke Show from 1961-66 as comedy writer Rob Petrie.
Though The Dick Van Dyke Show did not pioneer the sitcom format (The Honeymooners and I Love Lucy held that honor first), it did perfect it, adding sophistication and intelligence to slapstick farce rarely seen on television at that time. Dick Van Dyke’s endearing charm and relaxed comedic timing helped elevate his show above broad lunacy, cementing its status as one of television history’s finest programs.
Broadway was transformed when in 1960 he made a breakthrough as the lead in Bye Bye Birdie, earning him both a Tony Award nomination and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Following this, his small screen success continued after leaving The Dick Van Dyke Show by co-starring with Rose Marie and Morey Amsterdam on The New Dick Van Dyke Show (1971-74) before returning as street artist Bert in Mary Poppins (and its sequel Chitty Chitty Bang, Bang!) (1964).
Van Dyke went on to appear in numerous movies and musicals such as The Great Mouse Detective and Academy Award-winning Gigi, as well as starring in his long-running television crime drama Dr. Mark Sloan for more than two decades. Later on, he made several more movies, even making an appearance in Ben Stiller’s hit Night at the Museum film.